As of 6 pm Eastern on Thursday, CNN has devoted just 19 seconds of air time to the release of five prisoners from Guantanamo Bay detention facilities – a news brief during the New Day program. This is still more coverage than CBS and NBC, as both Big Three networks ignored the story on their Thursday morning newscasts. ABC gave a 16-second news brief on Good Morning America.
Anchor Michaela Pereira gave the news brief 11 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of the CNN morning show: [video below]
MICHAELA PEREIRA: Five Yemeni inmates held at Guantanamo Bay have been transferred overseas – at least six years after the Pentagon cleared them for release. Four will go to Oman; one to Estonia. That leaves 122 prisoners at the facility in Cuba. This move has angered some members of Congress, who argue Guantanamo is needed to detain terror suspects.
Correspondent Chloe Summers gave further details about the prisoner transfer in a Thursday item on CNN.com:
Al Khadr Abdallah Muhammad Al Yafi, Fadel Hussein Saleh Hentif, Abd Al-Rahman Abdullah Au Shabati and Mohammed Ahmed Salam were sent to Oman. Akhmed Abdul Qadir was transferred to Estonia....
The detainees were not released to their home country of Yemen because the government there -- under pressure from al Qaeda and Houthi militants -- cannot ensure they won't join al Qaeda elements. The United States has been trying to find countries to take on the detainees who will provide security and human rights assurances for them.
There are currently 122 prisoners left at Guantanamo Bay, including 79 Yemeni men, according to documents from the Pentagon and Joint Task Force Guantanamo....
The transfer is part of the White House's ongoing effort to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. President Barack Obama stated in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" back in December that he's "going to be doing everything I can to close it."
Neither CNN's on-air reporting nor its online reporting explained which members of Congress opposed the further release of detainees.
On Thursday, The Hill's Martin Matishak reported that Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry, "the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee...said lawmakers should act to prevent President Obama from releasing more prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." Matishak also noted that "Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and GOP panel members Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), rolled out legislation that would prohibit the president from transferring more detainees out of Cuba."